By John Foley
THERE may have been just a point between the sides at Netwatch Cullen Park on Friday night but, in truth, this game was over as a contest long before the final whistle as Palatine secured their place in the semi-final of the senior football championship.
As the game ticked into six minutes of injury time, the eventual winners held a comfortable 1-8 to 0-6 lead and although a Tinryland free from Mark Lawlor was followed with a goal from Shane Redmond – punched to the net with virtually the final act of the game to reduce the deficit to the minimum – there was never any real sense of jeopardy in the endgame.
In a strangely claustrophobic encounter during which both set of forwards struggled to find space to work against tenacious defences, the rate of scoring was slow and so it proved that the more disciplined defence would have a big say in the result.
With Tinryland coughing up a number of scoreable frees, the ability of Palatine’s Shane O’Neill to consistently find the posts, often from distance, proved to be the winning of the game.
The centre forward scored five of his six points from dead balls while goalkeeper Craig Kearney also came forward and slotted one from three long-distance attempts at the posts.
Conversely, it will be argued that Palatine will need to find more consistent scoring options from play if they are to have any chance of making this year’s county final and going one step further than last year.
Tinryland, who frequently played with up to 13 men in defence when not in possession, struggled with the quick transition into attack and were over-reliant on the singular ability of Paul Broderick to fashion scores from unlikely angles and distances.
After a group stage which included a fantastic win over Éire Óg, they will be hugely disappointed not to have kicked on to the final four.
But a tally of just six points in 60 minutes of play, before that late desperate flurry, was never going to be enough to get over the line.
Tinryland drew first blood when a lovely ball floated in from Cian Lawlor found Broderick and he bisected the posts. Palatine responded with a great score from wide on the right by Andrew Keogh. Shane O’Neill got off the mark with a couple of frees before Broderick slotted his second, another quality strike from the left.
It soon became apparent that Palatine’s inside defensive line were physically stronger than their opponents and so Tinryland were reduced to shuffling the ball around 50 metres from goal or shooting high-risk from distance. Without a consistent flow of ball closer to goal, they were going to struggle.
That’s not to say they didn’t have their moments and a Niall Lowry point – which came at the end of a mazy Cian Lawlor run through the heart of the Palatine defence and series of patient passes – was one of the highlights of the game.
At the half-time whistle Palatine led by just a point – 0-4 to 0-3
In a game with so few scores, the first goal was going to be crucial and so it proved two minutes after half-time when Jamie Kenny, a ball of energy throughout, took a pass and drove through a couple of would-be tacklers before slotting the ball low to the Tinryland net.
Suddenly Palatine had a little room to breath
An excellent free from Shane O’Neill made it a five-point game and that was pretty much how it stayed.
Both sides were wasteful in their shooting for much of the second period as Palatine kept their opponents at arm’s length. There was a small glimmer of hope for Tinryland when a Broderick free from distance made it a four-point game with four minutes of normal time to play. A goal at this stage would have made it interesting and soon after that, Palatine keeper Craig Kearney was alert to deal with a dangerous dropping ball into the square.
But a fine Shane O’Neill point from play soon after had the look of a score that put this game to bed – making it 1-7 to 0-5.
Paul Broderick had to leave the field injured not long after he scored his final free from out under the stand. And with his departure, some more wind was taken from their sails.
There were chances for goals at both ends before the final whistle with Shane Redmond reacting quickest to a rebound in the Palatine square late on.
But by then his team knew there was no way out.
Palatine move on, but they know they will have to improve, particularly in attack, if they are to bring home The Nationalist Cup next month.
Tinryland: Ciaran Byrne; Jonah Dunne, Danny Moran, Conor Ryan; Conor O’Toole, John Paul Moore, Adam Dunne; Shane Redmond (1-0), Keelan Gaffney; Matthew O’Toole, Cormac Walshe, Cian Lawlor; Niall Lowry (0-1), Paul Broderick (0-4, 0-1 free), Diarmuid Walshe (0-1, free). Subs: Mark Lawlor (0-1) for K Gaffney (44 mins), Cathal Gaffney for D Moran (47 mins, black card), Cathal O’Toole for M O’Toole (50 mins), Padraig Townsend for P Broderick (56 mins)
Palatine: Craig Kearney (0-1 free); Darragh Fitzpatrick, Stephen Reilly, Conor Crowley; Conor O’Doherty, Conor Lawlor, David Reid; Jack Brennan, Jason Kane; Tomás Kenny, Shane O’Neill (0-6, 0-5 frees), Andrew Keogh (0-1); Conor Reynolds, Niall Reid, Jamie Kenny (1-0). Subs: Cathal O’Neill for J Brennan (50 mins), Gavin Healy for Jamie Kenny (60 mins), Darren Reid for C Reynolds (61 mins).